Sunday, August 07, 2005

Guardian's lame dissent on Daly's "vision"

The July 27/Aug. 2 edition of the SF Bay Guardian was, according to the front page, the 31st anniversary of the Best of the Bay type of promotional advertising that now has many imitators. Those 31st anniversaries are so special. As Tim Redmond proudly says inside, "When you have a good idea, I guess, everyone has to copy it." The SF Bay Guardian: Inventor of the Best-of promo/advertising strategy. Not exactly the kind of thing one would want on one's tombstone. But nothing else springs to mind about the Guardian's achievements since 1966. In fact, it's the Guardian's failures that have been the most notable, especially its utter cluelessness about homelessness in San Francisco over the past ten years.

But hold on! The August 3 edition of the Guardian almost breaks ranks with the wrongheaded We Need Housing movement---an alliance of progressives, the Planning Dept., and developers---that threatens every neighborhood in the city anywhere near a Muni route. A Guardian editorial tamely questions the wisdom of constructing five highrise residential towers in the Rincon Hill area: "Simply put, five more towers of luxury condos is too many. No matter how lucrative the payoff, when the projects come through for final approval city leaders should reject at least two of these towers." ("Don't Sell SoMa," SF Bay Guardian, Aug. 3)

Oh, that Guardian is so radical! The real issue is whether highrise condos for rich people is a sensible way to address the city's chronic housing shortage. Of course the city needs more housing, especially for working people. But why rewrite the city's zoning laws to encourage this kind of grotesquely large development? Why not encourage housing production within established height and density laws? This is a small city, and housing production needs to be done carefully, lest we end up destroying the qualities that make the city livable in the first place.

Instead of asking these questions, city progressives are squabbling over how to divide up the fees the developers are going to pay for the privilege of trashing that part of town, leadership by Mr. Ultra-Leftist himself, Supervisor Chris Daly. How's that for a progressive vision? Progressives completely screwed up on the homeless issue over the past ten years, and they are now in the process of screwing up the housing issue so badly that it threatens to degrade the city's neighborhoods unless they are stopped.

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